In more than 20 years as an assistant to Jim Boeheim at Syracuse, Mike Hopkins learned just about all there is to know about a 2-3 zone defense.
Hopkins, the coach of No. 22 Washington, still predominantly relies on the zone. But he hasn't been afraid to change things up at times this season, throwing a man-to-man defense at opponents on occasion.
One of those occasions came Sunday night in the opening round of the Diamond Head Classic in Honolulu against Ball State, a team that entered the game tied for 13th nationally with 10.3 3-pointers made per game.
So when the Cardinals made four of their first six attempts from 3-point range Sunday, the Huskies switched defenses.
"They scared me at first," Hopkins said. "It takes a lot to get me out of the zone and they did it. They're a really well-coached team with exceptional shooters. We went to a man and took away the 3-point shot, which is a huge part of their offense, and it worked."
The Huskies' 85-64 victory against Ball State sent them into a semifinal matchup with host Hawaii on Monday. The Rainbow Warriors defeated UTEP 67-63 in Sunday night's late game.
"Early in the game against the 2-3, they were getting easy shots because they were too relaxed," Huskies point guard Quade Green told The Seattle Times. "That's what they do. Ball State, they shoot a bunch of 3s. For them to win games, they got to shoot 3s. Coach Hop made the adjustment that we had to play man to our best ability, and we started locking up."
The Huskies (9-2) were led by their trio of former McDonald's All-Americans.
Freshman forward Jaden McDaniels scored a career-high 22 points and Green, a transfer from Kentucky, matched his career high with 21 points on 7-of-8 shooting with a game-high six assists. Freshman forward Isaiah Stewart added 19 points and 10 rebounds.
McDaniels and Green each nailed four 3-pointers as the Huskies made a season-high 11 shots from beyond the arc on a night they shot 56.4 percent from the field.
"We were just trying to get each other involved," McDaniels told The Seattle Times. "We do this drill called 'One More.' If a dude gets open, then swing it to him. Just trust your teammate. I just feel like we all did a good job of helping each other get to the rack."
The 6-foot-9 McDaniels, who has a 7-1 wingspan, also blocked three shots.
"We have a lot of athletic people from 1 to 5. It's everybody helping. Everybody scrapping," he said. "We like playing man. The way we pressured them, moved them off the 3-point line and picking up full court kind of helped us so they didn't set up their offense."
Hawaii (8-3) rallied from a nine-point deficit in the second half to beat UTEP, with Bernardo da Silva making a tiebreaking layup with 1:29 left to give the Rainbow Warriors the lead for good.
Da Silva scored a team-high 17 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the field, and Samuta Avea added 16 points and eight rebounds.
--Field Level Media